Just got off the phone with Terry Murray and got his thoughts on today’s cuts and how they will impact the opening-night roster. Please forgive any typos…I wanted to get these quotes up ASAP. Murray said team management met after last night’s game and informed the players of their decisions this morning.
Here are the quotes…
Question: Can you talk about what went into the decision to keep Ersberg over Bernier?
MURRAY: “The meeting we had with Jonathan was about going down and working on his game and continuing to play the way he finished the last couple months of last season. Everyone’s feedback was very positive with his work ethic and intensity. Of course, I wasn’t there to see all that in Manchester, but my observation and feedback to him was that when he came up — there were a couple games last year when he came up and he backed up — I was able to see him practice. The talk I had with him then was that I needed to see more work and more intensity. Then when I got a look at him in the development camp in July, and in training camp, I was quite honestly blown away with the way he turned things around. He did great work. Physically, he obviously spent a lot of time working in the offseason and he got stronger and everything seems to be going right in perfect direction for him.”
Question: But you go with Ersberg. Is the thought that Bernier can still develop better in Manhcester?
MURRAY: “It is the thought. It’s just him continuing to work at the same level as he finished off the season down there. Continue with it, handle it the right way, deal with it and become one of the top goaltenders in the AHL and help that team move toward the playoffs down there. The bottom line is just to learn and to develop your game.”
Question: The question that everyone will have is, `How did he take it?’ Last year, Bernier admitted that he didn’t deal well, mentally, with going to the AHL. Are you confident that he will be OK with this move?
MURRAY: “I was not in the meeting last year, but I’m very confident that he’s going to go down with the right attitude and continue to build on his game. He indicated in the meeting that everything was good and that he understood where we were coming from. He indicated that it took a couple months for him to sort it out last year. That’s wasted time, where he could have been pushing himself and getting better. He’s more mature now. There’s no question that he feels he’s a player who can play in the NHL, and we agree with that. I agree with that. We feel he’s going to be a very good goalie in the NHL, and it’s not too far down the road. I told him this morning, `Don’t ever begrudge your time in the trenches. Work hard, stay intense, and when the opportunity comes up, be ready to take advantage of it.”
Question: To the extent that preseason numbers matter, Ersberg’s numbers weren’t great. Are you confident that he can handle that backup role?
MURRAY: “I look at the entire training camp for him. I also go back to last year. He was in the NHL last year for me. I thought that, with the decision we made to bring Quick up, and with Quick playing the majority of the games, there were situations that I put Ersberg in that were tough. Playing after sitting for a long time, and after late-night arrivals — I remember one game in particular in Philadelphia — he handled it all well, and played well. That’s a big part of it too. Not a lot of goaltenders can step in and play after not playing for two, two and a half weeks. Ersberg has done it. The other side is with Jon Bernier, to work and continue to become a solid goaltender. The combination of those two helped in the decision.”
Question: To ask about the fourth line, I sort of have to back into it by asking about Rich Clune. Is it still the thought that he’s going to be out a couple weeks?
MURRAY: “I haven’t had an update on that today. When I first asked about him, it was maybe three weeks. If that has changed, I don’t know. He’s out for a while. The groin has to be 100 percent, especially with that kind of game he plays.”
Question: Before the injury, had he made the team in your mind?
MURRAY: “Yeah. I wanted him on the hockey club because of what he brought. I liked that middleweight attitude and the style of play.”
Question: So the thought would be that, when he’s healthy, he will be on the NHL team?
MURRAY: “I would say yes. But is there a possibility he might have to get restarted in Manchester for a couple games? There is that possibility, yes.”
Question: That leaves you with four forwards for three spots on the fourth line. What are you thoughts about what the fourth line will look like?
MURRAY: “I’m still, quite honestly, looking at that. We’ve got Raitis, Richardson, Lewis, Harrold, and we have to make a decision on three of those. I like the way everyone has played throughout the camp.”
Question: How about Raitis in particular? There’s a lot of debate about whether a player like him needs to be in the lineup every night. Do you want him in there every night?
MURRAY: “A player like Raitis, every team in the league has a player like Raitis, pretty much. Coming out of the training camp and looking at our conference, he needs to be in our lineup and on our team. He gives confidence to your skill players, that nobody is going to be taken advantage of, that nobody is going to step out of line without having to deal with Raitis. It’s a very comfortable feeling for our young players, especially with the decision we have made to go with a number of young players. He lost weight, which we asked him to do, he’s much more flexible and he’s getting up the ice very well. As you saw last night, we’re even able to move him up into a different situation for a few shifts and he did well. The type of player he is, it’s needed.”
Question: With Harrold, Lewis and Richardson, you have three guys who could center that line. Were you motivated by that flexibility there?
MURRAY: “It’s great flexibility. Lewis has played all three position. Richardson plays left wing and center. They’re all contributing on the penalty kill. Lewis and Harrold can play on the power play and were used there during the training camp. That’s a nice addition to our hockey club. I feel very confident with any one of them if they need to move up into a different role. We added speed, versatility and hunger.”